Student-run Wildcat Warehouse opens outside of Spirit Store


Charlotte Pulte

The Wildcat Warehouse is open before school every morning in the main lobby. Their logo, featured on this sign hanging next to the Spirit Store, was designed by senior Brandon Fisher.

The Wildcat Warehouse, located outside of the Spirit Store in the main lobby, has been open for the past few weeks in the mornings before school. Since their soft opening last month, they have been selling items like snacks and refreshments to students and staff.

The students involved in the Wildcat Warehouse are a combination of two classes: Marketing and Vocational Consumer Education. Vocational Consumer Education, or VCE, is offered through the Special Services Department to help meet the necessary graduation requirement for students enrolled in special education. The marketing class that collaborates with the VCE class is taught by Mr. Bill Reichert.

“We have about 45 students involved: all of the students from the VCE class and all of the students from my marketing class, and then we even branch out a little bit to some of the students from Mr. Gerlach’s graphics class, so everything from the ground up has been student driven, from creating the logos, creating the slogans, creating all of the materials, and making the products,” said Mr. Reichert.

Charlotte Pulte
Senior Anna Scholler brews a fresh pot of coffee for early morning customers at the Wildcat Warehouse.

The Warehouse currently sells drinks such as coffee, green tea and hot cocoa. They also stock various candy bars, gum, mints and ramen noodles. The students involved in the Wildcat Warehouse have chosen all products and set prices for those products. Because the Warehouse is student-driven, the teachers involved try to be as hands-off as possible, allowing the students’ vision to come forward.

“We’re the demographic for the store, [so] we just kind of choose what we would want to buy,” stated senior Carolyn Hardy, one of Mr. Reichert’s marketing students.

In order to work out potential problems and receive feedback from customers, those involved decided to do a soft open first, meaning that they do not have their full product range yet but have still opened their doors to customers. Part of the marketing students’ job is to see what sells in the Warehouse and what doesn’t sell, and then decide where to go from there.

“You just get to learn a lot of different skills to help you find jobs, teaching you how to be more independent,” said senior James Clavey, a student who is enrolled in the VCE class and helps out with running the Wildcat Warehouse in the mornings.

For their grand opening, the students hope to have their full product mix available, which will include Mylar helium balloons, phone chargers, Chromebook chargers, and earbuds. The grand opening will be in the near future, but there is no set date yet, Mr. Reichert said.

Charlotte Pulte
Senior James Clavey helps run the Wildcat Warehouse before school. According to Clavey, he typically helps out by marking the cups, indicating what roast or flavor of coffee the customer has ordered.

“The goal is, on one level, to have students learning workplace skills, giving students a real-life working model where they can actually apply the marketing [skills] we learn. So instead of just learning theory and maybe doing a project, we’re actually learning concepts and then we apply them,” explained Mr. Reichert.

The Wildcat Warehouse has put up numerous signs in the hallways and made their own commercials, which aired during the morning announcements. Their logo, designed by senior Brandon Fisher, was printed off in partnership with Mr. Gerlach and a few of his graphics students.

“[All of] the kids can collaborate and it’s really nice for the kids in Special Services to be working hand-in-hand with the [marketing] kids,” Mr. Reichert said, further explaining that students enrolled in different classes don’t typically work together.

They are also branching out to other classes, such as clothing construction, according to Mr. Reichert. With the help of the clothing construction class, they plan on making tablecloths for their tables outside the Spirit Store. The Wildcat Warehouse also hopes to someday expand their store and potentially purchase nicer tables in order to create more of a bistro-like setting.

Charlotte Pulte
Customers at the Wildcat Warehouse, like junior Kendall Edwards and senior Jon Palmieri, can enjoy their coffee at the new standing tables in the main lobby. The tables will soon have tablecloths thanks to a clothing construction class.

Mr. Reichert stated the funds for the Wildcat Warehouse were incorporated into the school’s budget by the district, which was used to buy the coffee makers, shelving and some merchandise. The district is also funding a corresponding program at Vernon Hills High School. The future profits from the Warehouse will be used to replace the merchandise and eventually any additional profits will be put towards a charity chosen by the students each month.

After first semester, the marketing class will be replaced by an entrepreneurship class, also taught by Mr. Reichert, which will then take over the business and continue collaborating with the VCE class.